Five Car Shopping Tips for New Parents
Do you have a baby on the way? Trust these five car buying tips to find the right vehicle for you.
By Aaron Gold
1. Buy your car seat first, and bring it to the showroom.
Upwards of 70% of car seats are improperly installed — and improperly installed car seats are responsible for about half of child fatalities in car accidents. Not all cars accommodate all car seats properly, so buy your car seat first and bring it to the dealership. Follow the manufacturers instructions and use the LATCH anchor points in the seat. If the car seat doesn’t fit properly or if it’s too difficult to install, try a different vehicle or exchange the car seat for another model. Do not buy a car until you know you can fit the car seat properly! SeatCheck.org will direct you to an inspection station that can check your car seat’s fit — make it a stop on your test drive.
2. Try getting the baby in and out of the car.
You’ll be hoisting your kid in and out of the car for some years to come, so try doing it in the showroom and make sure there isn’t too much lifting or bending required. If your baby isn’t born, use a life-size doll or a 15-lb dumbbell. For car seats with detachable carriers, load up the baby (or your surrogate weights) and see how easy it is to swing it into and out of the vehicle.
3. Stow the stroller
If you already have a stroller — especially an expensive one — bring it with you and make sure it’ll fit into the car with enough room left over for a baby bag, groceries, and other odds and ends. Don’t just put the stroller in once and decide it’s good; hoist it in and out a few times, as you’ll be doing this a lot. You may find you’ll be happier with a different car or a lighter stroller.
4. Take a ride in the back
There will be times when you or your partner (or a doting grandparent) will want to ride in back with the baby. Install the car seat, then get in and close the door to make sure there’s enough room — those car seats take up more room than you expect. While you’re there, check out the angle of the rear window — some cars have windows that extend over the seat, allowing the sun to beat down on baby’s delicate skin.
5. Dress rehearsal!
Get into full baby-carrying mode, with your baby (or surrogate weights) in the stroller or carrier and the baby bag over your shoulder. See how easy it is to unlock and open the doors and trunk, get the baby into his seat, and load up your gear. Now, do the opposite: Open the doors, remove and set up the stroller, get the baby out, and make sure you can easily close and lock up the car.
CAR SEAT INSPECTIONS: Call 1-866-SEATCHECK or visit http://www.seatcheck.org .